A Jesuit/Mercy Education

UDM: A Catholic University in the Jesuit and Mercy Traditions

What does it mean to be a Catholic university?

Catholic universities help the Church interpret the signs of the times in every dimension of the human experience.

Their purpose is to be a “public, persistent and universal presence” that shapes society’s culture and prepares graduates to take on professional and public responsibilities well equipped and critically aware from a Christian perspective.

As a Catholic university, we serve the Church by bringing people together in a broad conversation.

A Catholic university:

  • Is a community of mutual respect, courtesy and caring for one another.
  • Is a collaboration among faculty of different academic disciplines in research   and teaching.
  • Has a rigorous campus ministry.
  • Has a strong life of liturgical worship.

The ultimate goal of a Catholic university is to give meaning to life and to find the meaning of truth, that fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished.

At University of Detroit Mercy, we see our commitment to teaching, research and service as a sacred calling. We study the glories of creation in the arts and sciences and the professions, and work to heal the world’s sufferings as part of our commitment to serve God’s love for the whole creation.

How do the Jesuit and Mercy traditions guide UDM?

UDM’s Catholic identity also reflects the tradition of our religious sponsors: the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in 1540 for Jesuit missionaries to spread the word of Jesus’ love and to help others “see God in all things.”

Initially, Jesuit schools focused on training members of their order, but soon broadened in focus to teach youth in urban areas.

Jesuit schools and universities increased as Jesuit missionaries traveled to other countries. They were part of the Renaissance movement, reforming the moral character of individuals and entire societies by sharing the power of schools.

Jesuits hoped that through their schools, students would develop good habits and virtue, leading them to direct their studies to the service of others.

Characteristics of a Jesuit education include:

  • A passion for quality
  • A study of the humanities and sciences, no matter the major
  • An emphasis on ethics and values, personally and professionally
  • A religious experience that allows students to grow in knowledge and faith
  • A student-centered focus

Jesuit colleges and universities have, at the core of their mission, a commitment to faith and justice. With this in mind, they educate students to have an organized vision of social reality, and challenge them to serve society after graduation.

Catherine McAuley began teaching young women and tending to the sick in Dublin, Ireland in the early 1800s. To further her work, she founded the Sisters of Mercy order in 1831.

As Sisters of Mercy traveled from Ireland to other parts of the world to establish new foundations, they started schools and hospitals in response to local needs. Today, 17 colleges and universities form the Conference for Mercy Higher Education in the U.S.

Characteristics of a Mercy education include:

  • Regard for the dignity of the person
  • Academic excellence and life-long learning
  • Education of the whole person — body, mind and spirit
  • Compassion and justice for those in need, especially women and children

A hallmark of a Mercy education, reflective of Catherine McAuley and an expression of the Mercy mission, is a commitment to service that transforms society.

Sources:

Monika Hellwig

Fr. Joseph Daoust, S.J.,“Of Kingfishers and Dragonflies: Faith and Justice at the Core of Jesuit Education,” The Berkley Electronic Press, 2001.

Maryanne Stevens, RSM, Ph.D., “Mercy Higher Education: Culture and Characteristics,” Discussion Paper, Conference of Mercy Higher Education, Winter 2004.

Catholic Identity in Mercy: http://www.mercyhighered.org/identity.html